After listening to the Nerdist Podcast, The Indoor Kids, featuring The Fullbright Company (episode found at: http://www.nerdist.com/2013/08/the-indoor-kids-110-gone-home-to-portland-with-the-fullbright-company/), I can clearly remember moments and sections of their game, Gone Home, where I found myself being led along a path and led through what was essentially an open world without conflict. According to the developers, a huge conflict with creating a non-linear game is leading a player along the desired path which, in a game where the story is learned through notes and visual cues depending on the location, largely leads toward a cohesive story. In hindsight, I can now look back and realize that I had fallen for their plan in such a way that I might as well have been playing an on-rails point-and-click adventure, give or take a few rooms explored “out of order”. I’m sure the average player wouldn’t consider it, but as an aspiring game artist I found myself questioning why I entered rooms in the order I did after I moved on to the top floor of the house. Why did I explore as much of the first floor as possible before moving on upwards? I was just as likely to skip entirely the left wing until later on in the game, so what led me there, gamer’s intuition? A quick look back at the foyer shows pretty clearly why I acted as I did. As an amateur of horror games, I was terrified by the ambiance of the game, the darkness was drowning me. A look at the top of the staircase showed a doorway into a hallway with a wall light squarely in the middle. Right off the bat this appeared to me as a disembodied ghostly head and began my constant paranoia. As I began looking around for ways to stave off the upstairs, I picked out a few lights and turned them all on. A quick scan showed what was essentially a spotlight pointed at a portrait of the family, and generally that corner of the room seemed much more friendly than the rest. Then of course, for the rest of the game, I developed a passion for flailing in the dark for light switches, sprinting through dark rooms for the nearest light, and exploring rooms in the exact order that I came to them. Thus, I found myself acting exactly according to their whims, but no hard feelings, the story was absolutely worth it.
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